[B]Commentary: Jackson a danger to Kid? Apparently not [/B] by Steve Corbett Jan 9 2004 The police officer headed my way after I asked Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon a big question at Thursday’s press conference about the child molestation charges he had just lodged against Michael Jackson. “Good question,” the cop said. The question remains a good question. It’s been on my mind ever since I first asked Sneddon about the matter at the first press conference he held last month. Sneddon had called the world’s press together Nov. 18 to announce that 45-year-old Michael Jackson would be arrested. The deteriorating entertainment icon turned himself in the next day. Back then, I asked Sneddon if Jackson would be forbidden to have contact with minors as a condition of his $3 million bail. Sneddon said that question could be considered at a bail hearing. I asked if he would raise the issue. Sneddon waffled. To the best of my knowledge, no such bail hearing took place. And Sneddon failed to return recent phone calls to his office asking for details. If Sneddon believes that Jackson plied a 13-year-old cancer patient with alcohol and then sexually molested him – and he does – then why allow Jackson access to other unsuspecting children? If Sneddon believes that Jackson committed the crimes for which he’s been charged – and he does – why risk the possibility of endless sleepovers at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch? Unless court officials forbid Jackson from enjoying the company of children other than his own, Jackson is free to enjoy the company of children other than his own. My question to Sneddon at Thursday’s press conference was simple: What are the conditions of Jackson’s bail and is he permitted to have contact with minors? Sneddon said that Jackson’s children are minors. “Other than his own children,” I said. Is Jackson permitted to have contact with minors other than his own children? Although it was difficult to hear Sneddon amid the whir of satellite truck engines, he said that the judge did not prevent Jackson from having contact with minors. I asked Sneddon if he had asked for such a prohibition. “No,” he said. “Why not?” I asked. Sneddon said he didn’t believe such a bail condition was necessary. Jackson’s attorneys must be pleased. If the DA himself doesn’t consider Jackson a threat to children, how can Sneddon ever hope to convince a jury that Jackson was, indeed, a threat to a child? If Sneddon has confidence in the evidence he has compiled in this case – and he surely seems confident – he might want to reconsider asking the court to tighten Jackson bail conditions. Such a request is not only reasonable, but warranted. Jackson’s affinity for children is well known. Innocent or guilty, Jackson’s fondness for young boys is what got him into this mess in the first place. If Sneddon makes the request and the judge turns it down, Sneddon can say that he tried. If the judge agrees that the child molestation charges against Jackson are so heinous that he should be barred from having with contact with children, Sneddon looks like the crusading public servant and children’s advocate that even critics consider him to be. When Sneddon’s press conference ended Thursday, the police office who approached me said he’s been asking himself the same question ever since he heard that Jackson would be arrested. Why grant this man who admits to sharing his bed with children even more access to children after he’s charged with molesting a child? Apparently Sneddon doesn’t consider Jackson a danger, I told the police officer. The cop lowered his voice and said, “As long as he stays away from my grandchildren.” Like any tough grandpa, the officer said that if Jackson ever came around his grandchildren, the situation might, indeed, turn dangerous. Even with the presumption of innocence and Jackson’s strong denials of guilt, just cause exists to keep Jackson away from children other than his own. If Jackson’s convicted, the decision will be proven judicious. If Jackson’s acquitted, he can throw a pajama party. Steve Corbett’s column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. He can be reached at 739-2215 or e-mailed at scorbett@pulitzer.net. Read Corbett online at www.santamariatimes.com :nav Source: http://www.santamariatimes.com/articles/2004/01/09/sections/traffic/991.txt

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